I wake up
She’s there next to me, but I’m alone. Except for my tumultuous brain, trying to figure it all out.
35 years with the same person, through thick and thin, ups and downs, kids who are now adults. Moves, restarts and companionship. Love – yes, there was/is love but now it’s not what I want or need. There has been very little emotional or physical connection for the past ten years, but this is my choice. She could have easily been the one to decide that I was no longer working for her. But it was me. I’m the bastard.
The rumbling thoughts converge. I am madly in love with someone else, smitten to the point where I can’t believe it. It is joyful and I suddenly feel like me. I can see a life and it’s not the one I have now. Problem. I am also Mr Stable, Conservative and Reliable (Mr SC&R). This is not supposed to happen. Aside from one work-related fling, I have been utterly faithful all my life. Sure there have been flirtations and offers, but many were far too close to home to even consider for a fling. I am a sexual person but it simply wasn’t on my radar. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else I hasten to add, it just gives you some context.
I am meant to be enjoying everything I have now because I, we, built it. Family, friends, a community, our ideal rural life. And then there’s that brand new ride on the mower. I was excited about that mower. Maybe that’s because it represented some kind of freedom? Is that my weak attempt at post rationalisation? No, I actually like the lawnmower. But that’s what it’s come down to, finding small things that give me a smile.
The feelings I have for this new person are real, not just those “I want to tear your clothes off” ones. Ok I have those too, but there is depth here, there is a strong foundation, there is a life and it’s the one I feel I belong in. I have to go.
And then there’s the anxiety and fear of walking away from this. Mr SC&R is not supposed to do this. I wonder if this is how women feel when they decide they have to leave their families, their children behind and begin again. I wonder how much guilt they feel. Is it worse?. I tell myself I am not leaving children behind, they have left us already but I know they will think I have left them. And then there’s our community of friends. Will I have any left? Will I be a pariah forever? The one who upset the group dinners, the regularity, the status quo?
This I think is one of the problems of age. Perhaps if I had done it at 40 it might have been different, 30, no problems. But at 60, well you’re not supposed to are you? Society expects that you will stay there because after all you’re older and unless you’re famous or rich, or both, you do not go around doing things like this. Mr SC&R is supposed to be there till the end. The quiet man who, though dissatisfied, does the right thing.
“But I’m 60,” I told myself. “I can’t do this. I’m comfortable. She’s comfortable. We’re all comfortable.” That was the problem, a) I wasn’t comfortable, I was just accepting. Like so many others, men and women alike, I’d created my own trap. I’d woven a life tapestry that didn’t have room to tell any more stories, not the ones that interested me. At gatherings with friends, the very ones I am so worried about leaving. b) I’d drink so that I wasn’t there. c) I wasn’t just bored, I had come to a standstill.
So I’ve made the decision to undo that tapestry, unpick the bonds and ties or, depending on your point of view, slash and burn them. On top of the feeling of doing something wrong I had the other voice, the one that says if you find something that feels so right, so effortlessly right, then it must be right to want to keep it. If that’s not the case, then why am I here in the first place? I have never believed that life is meant to be a constant struggle. We are meant to evolve, to find new things and new love, the latter being so rare. I still shake my head in disbelief.
I have had THE conversation, the tears and the recriminations. I have had it several times. I expect I will have it many more times. Loving the new woman in my life, planning and seeing the way forward with her has been effortless, but right now there is this horrendous juggling act to perform. To the point where I ask myself how happy I am allowed to feel? After all I have hurt someone, maybe several people and I might just be a selfish bastard.
Or maybe this is actually how it is. They say in life there are no second acts but are we kidding ourselves? I wonder how many others, men and women, feel they’ve woven their tapestry so tight they’re choking but the thought of getting out is a far more onerous concept than staying put. We also surround ourselves with so much physical stuff we make it even harder to move on and evolve but that’s another discussion.
Then there is that other little voice. The one that says if you’re the good guy everyone thinks you are, how could you do this to another person? That takes some working through believe me. Whilst I know I’m doing the right thing by me, I also know I am doing the wrong thing by someone else. Or that’s how it looks at the moment. In time, I expect everyone will recover and move on. But what if they don’t?
So I wonder what might happen if I turned my back on this joy, this extraordinary emotional, physical and intellectual intimacy I’ve found. Just let it go and say it was one of those things. But it’s not one of those things. I’m not letting it go. This is the difference between living and just existing, and as I make this leap (ok, a hop maybe because I have a bad knee), I do it in full knowledge that there will be people who say, “He’s not the man I thought he was.” But right now I feel like the man I should be. Mr SC&R who walks to the edge, then jumps. And soars.
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An Ordinary Bloke Writing about an Extraordinary Moment
I love this – it’s so honest. We are not perfect – we just try to do our best.
Thanks Louise. Yes this is about trying to be better, not perfect. It was a decision weighing up all angles, all people, all issues, but at the end of it wanting to be happy in my own life.
Very interesting and thoughtful article…..some of which I know so well having left a long established marriage at the age of 42….after many years as a wife and mother knowing I was gay.One teenager had already left and one went to college at the same time I left.
The repercussions have never really gone away….just changed.I lost many so called friends who couldn’t cope with the new me….my mother (a staunch RC) told me I was damned and my mother in law was quite convinced I was mentally ill!Relationships with my children were complicated and with one..has remained so after 24 years
It was the right decision for me…but many people including myself were very hurt by it!
That must have been very difficult for your Veronica. The friends issue is playing out, though many have been very supportive. Tough decisions certainly do reveal who are there for the long haul and who are just there for the party.
But it is so often that the man will always leave in order to move in with someone else, when the left woman frequently ends up alone.
This is about what he wants for his life. Has he even thought that his wife, the person who has shared his life for so long, might be feeling bored and wants something else too?
At 60 it is a really really tough call for a woman to find another partner, more so than men, but then perhaps if she has been hurt badly, she won’t want to.
This is also about giving both of us a chance at happiness, not just me Erica. Yes it may not play out well for the ex, but I sincerely hope it will. If I hated her it would have been a walk in the park decision. But I still care about her, and want her to be ok. I came to realise it was not going to happen with me there unfortunately, irrespective of their being another person or not.
Great and honest article.